AP

Puig’s agent: Ex-MLB star felt `rushed’ at probe with feds

Nov 15, 2022, 11:10 PM | Updated: 11:56 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Former major league outfielder Yasiel Puig did not have a criminal attorney with him and felt compromised partly because of his mental health issues at an interview with federal agents investigating an illegal gambling operation, according to a statement Tuesday night from his agent.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that Puig, 31, will plead guilty to lying at that interview. Court documents say he has agreed to plead guilty to one count of making false statements and after doing so could face up to five years in federal prison. He also agreed to pay a fine of at least $55,000.

“The government’s indictment arises out of a single interview he gave back in January via Zoom,” said Puig’s agent, Lisette Carnet of Leona Sports Agency.

“He came to the interview feeling rushed, unprepared, without criminal counsel with him, and also lacked his own interpreter. Given his history growing up in authoritarian Cuba, government interviews are triggering and only worsen his ADHD symptoms and other mental health struggles, for which he is in treatment. He would have benefited from this care at the time of the interview.”

Carnet said Puig’s lawyer, Keri Axel, has also clarified that under the sentencing guidelines he is eligible for probation.

“I want to make clear that many headlines have been completely misleading, with some articles making downright false statements,” Carnet said. “Yasiel Puig has not been charged with illegal gambling, was not a member of a gambling ring, nor did he bet on baseball. He has not been indicted for gambling of any kind on any sport whatsoever nor for any involvement with any illegal gambling. The absolute ‘only conduct at issue is what he said or did not say during an interview’ conducted by IRS and HSI Officials, as described in a statement released by his attorney.

“Yasiel Puig was not the target of the government’s investigation; he was asked by the government to be a witness against the gambling organizers and others.”

Puig batted .277 with 132 home runs and 415 RBIs while appearing in seven major league seasons, the first six with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He earned an All-Star selection with the Dodgers in 2014.

Puig played for Cincinnati and Cleveland in 2019 before becoming a free agent. He then played in the Mexican League and last year signed a one-year, $1 million contact with South Korea’s Kiwoom Heroes.

Carnet said Puig’s legal trouble does not prevent him from playing in the major leagues or abroad “per organization regulations.”

“Puig took responsibility, and this agreement with the government should end this whole unfortunate incident,” Carnet said.

MLB would not investigate unless Puig attempts to sign with a big league organization.

In an August plea agreement, Puig acknowledged that over only a few months in 2019 he wracked up more than $280,000 in losses while wagering on tennis, football and basketball games through a third party who worked for an illegal gambling operation run by Wayne Nix, a former minor league baseball player.

Puig placed at least 900 bets through Nix-controlled betting websites and through a man who worked for Nix, authorities said.

In his plea agreement, Puig acknowledged lying in January to federal investigators who were looking into the business, denying he had placed bets through the operation.

Nix pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to operate an illegal sports gambling business and filing a false tax return. Prosecutors said Nix’s operation ran for two decades and included both current and former professional athletes as clients or employees.

Federal prosecutors also announced Monday that another former MLB player, Erik Kristian Hiljus, 49, of Los Angeles, had agreed to plead guilty to two counts of subscribing to false tax returns. They said he was an agent for Nix’s operation.

Hiljus was drafted by the New York Mets in 1991 but made his major league debut in 1999 with the Detroit Tigers. He also played for the Oakland Athletics in 2001 and 2002. He pitched 124 innings in four seasons, going 8-3 with a 4.72 career ERA.

Hiljus could face up to six years in federal prison at sentencing.

___

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and Coll...

Associated Press

Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US college campuses following mass arrests at Columbia

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia canceled in-person classes, dozens of protesters were arrested at New York University and Yale, and the gates to Harvard Yard were closed to the public Monday as some of the most prestigious U.S. universities sought to defuse campus tensions over Israel’s war with Hamas. More than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators who […]

9 hours ago

Ban on sleeping outdoors under consideration in Supreme Court...

Associated Press

With homelessness on the rise, the Supreme Court weighs bans on sleeping outdoors

The Supreme Court is wrestling with major questions about the growing issue of homelessness as it considers a ban on sleeping outdoors.

10 hours ago

Arizona judge declares mistrial in case of rancher who shot migrant...

Associated Press

Arizona judge declares mistrial in the case of a rancher accused of fatally shooting a migrant

An Arizona judge declared a mistrial in the case of rancher accused of killing a Mexican man on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

11 hours ago

Donald Trump appears in court for opening statements in his criminal trial for allegedly covering u...

Associated Press

Trump tried to ‘corrupt’ the 2016 election, prosecutor alleges as hush money trial gets underway

Donald Trump's criminal trial in New York over alleged hush money payments started with opening statements on Monday.

20 hours ago

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows Iran's nuclear site in Isfahan, Iran, April 4, 2024...

Associated Press

Israel, Iran play down apparent Israeli strike. The muted responses could calm tensions — for now

Israel and Iran are both playing down an apparent Israeli airstrike near a major air base and nuclear site in central Iran.

3 days ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after lawmakers pushed a $95 bill...

Associated Press

Ukraine, Israel aid advances in rare House vote as Democrats help Republicans push it forward

The House pushed ahead Friday on a foreign aid package of $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other sources of humanitarian support.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Puig’s agent: Ex-MLB star felt `rushed’ at probe with feds